Introduction to Guildball: Part II – The Startup and Cost Involved
by JD Haigler · Published · Updated
If you missed Part I, it’s here right here and covers the idea of the game and what it’s about.
The game looks cool, and you’ve picked out a Guild you like, but then you mentioned it to your wife and she’s turned Step 2 from “Get involved up to your neck” to “Cost Analysis”. We’ll do this two ways. There’s getting what you absolutely need and on a budget. Then there’ll be a more comprehensive list of things you want to accrue over time, or if you have the money, start with.
This isn’t the assembly stuff, incidentally. This is talking about the game. For the models, superglue should get you into the game but that’s a different article entirely.
A quick note: If there’s already a group in town, you can probably grab your models if you’re sold on the game, and whoever you play with will probably be able to cover the stuff you need for a bit. I carried two tape measures for a long time for reasons like that. So don’t sweat it a lot, but that said, let’s take a look.
A lot of people grab the models, show up to the game store and get a bit daunted when your ten year tabletop wargaming veteran dumps out a bag full of tokens, rings, measuring widgets, coins, marbles and anything else you can imagine cut into shapes made of quarter inch acrylic plexiglass. The Token/Widget collecting has gotten even more prevalent in the last couple of years as measuring widgets have picked up popularity. For the longest time, 40k was the king of the board, and any question was answered with a cursory check on a measuring tape. Melee was determined by being base to base and that’s really all there was to it.
Then a couple of games introduced melee ranges, and in my case specifically, Warmachine. Warmachine brought in a lot of half inch melee, 2” melee, 3” movements after an activation, and all sorts of other in-game effects that involved half inch, 1”, 2”, 3”, 4” and 5” measurements on a regular basis. It became very clear very quickly that glancing over the top of a model while holding a tape four inches off the table was not very accurate and players were more competitive than the devices used to measure things. So widgets picked up. Warmachine had a little half inch one with a 2” side. Then several other companies got into it and based on player feedback, began building ones with 5” sides, 3” sides, 2”, 4”, you name it. Now there’s a dozen companies that do nothing but widgets. And if you’re a podcast with more than a name and less than an episode, you have your own brand of widgets.
Similarly, Warmachine had a lot of in-game effects and statuses that needed to be marked, and introduced token kits for them. Other games have this too, like Infinity, and now Guildball. So when you see this veteran player dump his kit, know that he’s accumulated this assortment over several years, and that most of it is stuff you don’t need right this second. Let’s talk about the stuff that is necessary, and then we can talk about some of the extras.
- Cards, sleeves/marker
Now, before we get rolling, we need to cover the exceptions to this. Most of the Guilds are your standard, unassembled metal models that come with just the models, the bases and the cards (which are probably outdated), so you’ll need everything we’re about to talk about. However, if you get the Farmers, Blacksmiths or The Kickoff, then you’re just almost ready to go. We talked about these in the previous article a little bit, but let’s mention it again.
Farmers and Blacksmiths are both pre-assembled, and will come with cardboard tokens. So in both of their cases (both boxes in each guild come with the applicable tokens) you can ignore most of step 3. You’ll still want Condition Tokens, but as far as Guild tokens, they’re not required until you decide you’re ready for plastic ones and not cardboard.
There’s also health counters, so you don’t need to sleeve your cards or get a marker if you don’t want to.
At this point it’s moderately archaic but it’s still worth having a tape meaure. It’s still the best way to measure out 17” and etc and nobody minds too much if all you’re doing is sprinting and seeing if you can kick a goal next turn. Get a cheap 5$ one from walmart or whatever. It’s not the sort of thing I would get at a game store since it’ll have some miniature company’s name on it and they’ll want quadruple the price. Get the cheapo and buy another Guildball mini with the rest. Quick tip: Anything that says “Games Workshop” on the side costs triple what it’s worth and takes a little piece of your soul that you’ll never get back.
Widgets are what are really taking off though. Maybe you come from warmachine already. If you do, your regular stuff is probably fine. Until MK3, Privateer Press didn’t produce really good 1” widgets except for the little key one for a long time. The new MK3 kits do really well though if you have one. I actually probably prefer it to the standard Guildball set, but there’s pros and cons. The AOE template is pretty useless in Guildball, and the Spray Template is nothing more than a 10” straight edge. However, the widget on the upper right has a half inch, 2”, 1” and 5”. The only thing it doesn’t have that you’ll want often is a 3”, and sometimes a 4”, but mostly 3”. I do really like this one though because at 5” long, it’s easy to use the 1” end for melee measurements without getting too much in the way of other models. However, 2/3rds of this kit is largely useless so I would wait til one comes up used, or your money is burning a hole in your pocket. Get the following Steamforged one instead.
So, the Steamforged set is probably the best one to get simply because you’ll need the Kick Scatter token. It’s the only widget like it in the industry and very basic to the game. It simply points what direction the ball goes after a kick, and it’s never straight on.
The little widget in the bottom has a 2” side, a 3” side and two 1” sides. That’s enough for many situations and all most melee ranges in the game, and most movements. It’s not a bad one. The only dumb token in the entire set is the drop scatter token. It has the same problem as a measuring tape and requires you to hold it over the top of the ball and look down. It’s probably fine, and once you roll the direction, you measure the distance off the ball, so the drop scatter widget at best is a rough estimate. Really though, want you want is the Kick scatter. If someone has an extra, buy it from them. Otherwise, old Warmachine ones are great for everything except that Kick Scatter.
Museonminis has a set with a lot more options, but it’s considerably more expensive. It does have a kick scatter, but it’s not in the picture below. The big things it brings are 4 proxy bases and a variety of measuring widgets. There’s a 8’’ (the max distance of most models), a 6’’ with a 4’’ edge (Extremely common for character plays and traits) and a 5’’ with a 3’’ side. You’ll use all of them, probably every game. I wish they sold just the 6’’ with a 4’’ side by itself because that’s what I use 85% of the time. I think there’s one out there for infinity, but I’d only grab it if it’s in your store.
Get what you want. They have Guild dice with the logo on them, but often you’ll find you don’t have enough. That’s not really their fault, there’s only 10 dice and it’s not often that you need more than that though it happens probably at least once a game. I wish the kit had 12, but at 10, it’s usually adequate. I would definitely have another set handy though. A dice pack is around $7.
It’s also worth considering having some D10s or D20s to keep score and momentum. Not required, you can use normal dice but it’s worth mentioning.
Originally, Steamforged tokens were terrible. They were $30 to begin with, and by Season 2 they were outdated. By Season 3 they didn’t have token for all of the Season 2 players, or the Season 3 players, and rules had changed on the models they did have tokens for. The token packs were pretty much useless within a year but the pricepoint was so high that they were never really worth it.
If you’re coming from another game that already uses tokens, see if they’ll work. There’s two types of tokens you need for Guildball. You need Guild tokens and Condition tokens. Guild tokens are things that mark various character plays. If one model uses a character play to buff the damage on another model, for your opponent and your sake both, you should mark it with something.
Condition tokens, on the other hand, are not Guild specific. They’re game wide and cover things like Knockdown, Fire and Poison. Things that can happen to any model in any Guild, so they’re sold separately. You’ll want them first I think. These ones are $15. Season 4 is about to drop though and bring another condition with it (disease) so they’re about to be outdated. I’m sure Museonminis will offer an upgrade pack though.
At the end of Season 2, Steamforged signed a contract with Muse On Minis, whom I mentioned above at Measurement. This means they have two companies making tokens. One in the UK, and one in the US. The other company finally updated their tokens, so now they’re accurate finally but I still highly recommend Muse’s. It’s probably easier to order from whichever is closer, so there is that, but it’s hard to beat Museonmini’s pricepoint. For around $20, you can get every token you need in the Guild, except for the Season 3 model tokens if there are any. If there are, it’s like another $4. For example, the Brewers are $22.50, and the Season 3 update pack is another $5. These are really great, durable tokens from personable guys out of Des Moines, Iowa. They’re in business because they were gamers and wanted tokens that were accurate, attractive, affordable and efficient. They cut their teeth on Warmachine and have been on the leading edge of the market for awhile. Great stuff.
Here’s the Alchemists, including 10 neoprene mousepad material AOEs (the big circles). They’re 25.00. And if there’s a release you don’t feel like getting the upgrade for, low and behold there’s one you can write on.
The budget option, however, is probably Warmachine tokens. The standard ones aren’t marked, they’re just various colored plastic shapes that you mark with a dry erase marker. This means they have a pricepoint of around $14-15 rather than $20-25. It just means you have to sit down before the game and mark the relevant things.
You can easily write the statuses and character plays down on the blank sets, and since there’s a dozen factions in Warmachine, you even have a selection of colors to choose from. Instead of 25$, you’re looking at 10-15$ for a far more adaptable kit. And the focus tokens are made to stack, and there’s 20 of them. It’s really a workable solution, and what I did for a long time.
On top of that, many Guilds have AOE character plays, and only a couple of AOEs to go with them. The Engineers are a perfect example, easily placing two AOEs a turn and their kit only comes with one. Grab some of these.
A pack comes with 5 and they’ve got a spot to write on. On top of that, they work great for a drop scatter token since you can actually place this one around the ball. These are 7$ to 10$ for 5 rings, depending on the local markdown. Your local hobby or leather store will have simple 3”, 4” and 5” metal rings that work too, but they don’t have the arrows on them for ball scatter. For AOEs though, they’re great.
Touching base with Condition tokens again, I used to use my old PrivateerPress universal packs. There’s two. Effects and statuses. The Effects come with Fire, Corrosion (poison) and Disruption (whatever you want). The other one comes with Knockdown, Shadowbind, Stationary, and Blind. Stationary could double as Icy Sponge tokens, but you’d be the only player in the world to ever actually use Icy Sponge tokens. Bleed is really the only one that doesn’t translate directly since Shadowbind works for snared just fine, but between Blind, Stationary or Disrupted, take your pick.
The caveat to all of this is that I’ve seen anything from marbles, to the little glass aquarium things, to colored balls of fluff used for statuses. I like to have a bit more visual than that for both me and my opponent, but as long as it’s clear on the table, that’s what matters.
- Cards, card Sleeves and a marker
Cards. Likely, your cards are already outdated. Check them against the website an either get them there or get either the Season 3 or Season 4 card pack that will have cards for every guild and mostly up to date.
Card sleeves. Couple of bucks. Get some cheap sleeves and a small dry-erase marker so you can mark health on your guys. I’ve gotten all fancy and laminated mine, but that’s because I have easy access to one. Otherwise cardsleeves are perfect. But you’ll need some.
Get an app. If you’ve got a smart phone, there’s no reason for you not to have a Guildball one anyways since it’s great toilet reading. There’s two options. Tooled Up is one. It’s free. You download the app, download the card pack and it’s ready to go. You can build lists, play games, record damage, have a timer, everything. Get it.
The other app is Guild Ball manager. Both of these apps are in the Google Play store. Idk about Apple users. No one likes those guys anyways. Buy sleeves, you hipsters. But for all the guys on Android, there’s all kinds of options. Guild Ball Manager downloads and is ready to go. It’s an easy to use app, also has a damage tracker, list builder, all that great stuff. The only issues I’ve seen is that it doesn’t just straight up use the Guildball resources PDF cards, and sometimes the app is wrong, whereas I’ve never had an issue with Tooled Up.
EDIT: The other side has spoken and there’s an app for IOS called GBKeeper. I’m told it’s pretty decent, but that’s straight from the mouths of Apple users so who knows if that’s the truth or not.
I don’t think the App should replace your cards, mind you. I like the cards being out and visible for my opponent, and it actually bothers me when their health isn’t where I can see it, and this is true for them too. You miss condition damage or something somewhere and I’ve been corrected for it, and I’ve corrected for it as well. The app is still great for checking things during game, out of game, all of that. The only time I really am ok with using it midgame is if my card is outdated and the app is caught up. That makes sense.
That said, all cards are available free on Steamforged. Download them, print them, put scotch tape over the health bars and you can dry erase on them all day. I did that for months with my Farmers.
None of the below is required, and honestly, it’ll be a few weeks before you can appreciate the handiness of most of it. The above should have you set up for your first game without needing a whole lot, but the below is what you’re going to see that everyone else has and once you know what you need, you’ll see that it’s a lot handier.
- Measuring Widget(s) and tokens
The movement from measuring tapes is more involved than just 5” and less measurements. As tabletop wargaming establishes that it can be a competitively tight game, the small things that can be wrong easily are slowly taken out of the equation. When I originally wrote this article two years ago, I said that within a year, I thought it’d be rare that you see a measuring tape used regularly at any Guildball table, and the same goes for Warmachine. I stand by that, and I think it has happened. There’s measuring sticks up to 10’’ in the hands of nearly every player, and I think I’m the only guy that still has a tape measure even There’s so many assortments of 1/4” plexiglass acrylic measuring sticks, anywhere from 4” to 10” long that can be stowed in a bag and combined for any length of measurement. The most useable ones will be the ones at 5” and below, but even for 9” sprints, you’ll see a four and a five used together more often on the competitive scene as time goes one. Especially if it’s for anything like a kick or a charge that really matters and it’s possible that they may be out.
This link here takes you to a collected Guildball Resources thread on the forums. The top section includes various companies that sell tokens designed for Guildball.
My second favorite is the Art of War studio.
They have the new measuring sticks, Guild specific, all of the status tokens you could want and updated core sets to cover all of the new spells. Most companies have the same thing, but I like AoW’s quality quite a bit and I like their designs. If it wasn’t for the next company, and that AoW is in the UK, I’d already have a set from AoW. If you’re in Europe, I’d pick these guys.
I’ve already preached about Museonminis but I’ll reiterate. I’ve been to their convention, they’ve come to my tournaments, they’re great guys and they’re easy to work with. I’ve had order issues and they’ve been resolved painlessly and quickly and I’ll probably never buy Guildball tokens from anyone else.
Muse also makes wound trackers that I use for momentum and score.
- Season plots/Game plans
Season plots are currently a thing, but they’re about to go away. Don’t buy them. In a month, Game Plans will be out, and they’re replacing Season plots. They’ll be around $12 for the pack, but I’m sure SFG will have them free online too. You’ll want some form of them at some point as they’re included in the game balancing.
- Goal/Momentum counter
I touched on this in section 1, but I want to hit it again. You can use dice for this, or an actual purpose built token. I encourage it. It’s important to both you and your opponent in this open information game to know what eachother’s momentum total is currently at. Any die greater than D6 is probably fine, but there’s some nicer setups out there.
Not a first purchase, certainly, but definitely one that is the best tool for specific situations. There are several variants, but my favorite is the Army Painter one.
It’s a small pen laser that lays down a long straight line when held directly overhead. It’s best use is for charge lanes or ball paths. Some of the measuring sticks will work for this as well, but when looking at LOS issues and etc, the laser is one of the best 10$ purchases you’ll ever make.
- Pitch Mat
I used to really not care for mats. It was in warmachine, and a 4×4 mat was expensive, and didn’t bring enough flavor to the board to interest me. Since Warmachine always used scenarios, I had to set up and measure things out regardless, before even placing terrain. Prior to MK3, a mat that had all the markings for scenarios and deployment lines was a lot of open information in a game that didn’t allow premeasuring. Now, even in MK3, it’s still a cluttered mess to have a mat that has all that information, and what’s worse, Steamroller scenarios change from year to year.
Guildball doesn’t have any of those problems. There is no proper scenario. Premeasuring exists. On top of that, there’s many measurements you would have to make and mark on whatever surface you play on, every game. A mat makes things really easy. There’s no reason not to have a mat that lets you convert any 3×3 surface into a playing field just like that. I’ll talk about terrain in a moment, but for the most part, a pitch mat has all you need. For 57$ you have a ready made setup. To many people, that’s not worth it, but I play enough that it’s extremely nice to have and makes for a very pleasant looking game.
Steamforged has produced 2 specific mats. There are probably others out there, and I think there are people photoshopping their own designs and having them printed out, but I’m just focusing on the official ones. There’s the Classic Pitch, and the Proving Grounds.
The proving grounds, to me, have a lot more character. But more importantly, it has two uses. The Demo format for a 3v3 game of Guildball uses the smaller, green board in the middle, and uses the goal spots that are six inches further in from the normal spots. As a prior PG from Warmachine, I’m fairly used to introducing other players to any game I’m playing, so the Proving Grounds immediately stood out to me as the preferred option.
Again, these mats are not required, you can make the needed measurements. I do prefer just rolling the mat out though, and I enjoy the aesthetic quite a bit. When my fully painted army is on the move through fully painted terrain on a full color print mat, it’s a beautiful site. Worst case though, take a 3×3 sheet of plywood or something and mark the lines. Then you can at least park the board somewhere leaned up and out of the way and you’re not making those measurements every time.
Another benefit to the Kickoff set is that it does come with a board. A beautiful board even. The downsides is that it’s pretty slick and hard to keep models in the same spot. It’s way better than most of other options that don’t involve buying one of the mousepad material ones.
This is not critically important, and the Kickoff Set comes with some little cardboard ones you can use. Really, you just want objects no larger than 3×3 inches, and maybe some little flat patches you can mark as fast or rough ground. You don’t need this right away, but some models in the game are balanced around it. Or entire guilds, like the Hunters.
There’s two main options. Ideally, your local game store will already have terrain, but Guildball tournament grade has specific measurements. Obstacles need to be within 2×2, Barriers need to be within 3×3, and forests, rough ground and fast ground all need to be within 6×4. Many of the standard terrain sets from Warmachine don’t really meet these needs, so there’s a few other options.
One of them is to build your own. At some point in the future, I’ll do one about not cheating and casting your terrain, and making it out of stuff around the house. For now, the best suggestion I have is normal sticks, branches, basing material. Mine looks like this.
The second option is buying some. If you’re going to buy some, the only really Guildball Specific terrain is the beautiful 2D stuff from Broken Egg Games.
My problem with Broken Egg Games is their pricepoint sucks. They’re super proud of their stuff. They’ve got good quality stuff, but they charge you pretty heavily for it. Art of War and Muse on Minis both have considerably more reasonable prices.
- Carrying Tray
I happened to do some horse swapping and landed this super sweet carrying tray for Guildball from Tectonic Crafts. For Warmachine, where you could have thirty to sixty models, carrying trays are pretty mandatory. Instead of unpacking your army bag for every single table switch in every round of a tournament, you just loaded everything you wanted in the tray and left your bag somewhere safe.
Guildball isn’t quite as bad. It’s 10 models and a pocket of tokens. It really doesn’t take too much to carry it around, but after a bit, a tray is pretty nice. I was planning on building one eventually, but now I’ve got a pretty sweet little one. They’re worth looking at. Tectonic Crafts is the leader in this but I’ve been known to build a few of my own with ¼’’ plywood and holesaws. Tectonic is right here though.
In Closing this became a fairly long article, but I hope it’s given you an idea of what you need going in, and what’s out there for options. Don’t feel pressured to have all of this immediately. Most people out there want you to play the game and get involved and have more than enough for you both to use. Get out there, play. This is just a resource for you to know what you’ll need at some point and what else exists. This is aimed at players new to tabletop wargaming, and Guildball, unlike any other, seems like it has the highest percentage of players new to the genre. Warmachine had a lot of ex 40k, Fantasy and stuff, but Guildball seems like it’s half tabletop noobs completely. It’s cool to see.
Anyways, hopefully this has been some help to you. Part 3 will be the basics of choosing a guild and basic concepts of the game. Thanks again!
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